All of Synology's current NASes operate using DiskStation Manager 6.1. DSM 6.1 provides a common set of features and a consistent user interface across all of Synology's products. Of course, some higher end products support enhanced features, such as the BTRFS filesystem and real-time transcoding that aren't supported on J Series and Value Series products.
If you want to explore the features of the DSM 6.1 operating system, Synology has an online emulator for DSM 6.1. This link will give you a 30-minute session to explore the user interface. Of course, some admin features are disabled in the demo.
The screenshot below shows the DSM 6.1 control panel along with the performance widget running on the desktop. This was created from the online DSM 6.1 demo.
Synology DSM 6.1 Control Panel
DSM 6.1.3-15152 Update 1 firmware was loaded onto the DS418j and performance tests were run using the Revision 5 NAS test process. All tests were run using Western Digital Red 1 TB ST1000VN001 (x4 SNB supplied).
File copy Write and File Copy Read results were consistent across all RAID levels (RAID 0, 5, & 10) for all three NASes. All results were above 100 MB/s with the exception of the 94.9 MB/s result turned in by the DS418j for RAID 5 File Copy Write performance and approached the theoretical limit of single client testing on a single Gigabit connection. On the NASPT HD playback & Record tests, as well as on the NASPT 4x HD Playback tests, surprisingly, the DS416j edged out the DS416 for all RAID levels.
What's surprising is how close the results were for all three NASes. Of course, there were some exceptions such as the lower NASPT directory copy performance for all raid levels for the DS416j. We'll also see those differences in the NAS Ranker category performance comparisons below.
Neither the DS418j nor the TS-431P has USB 2.0 ports, so no USB 2.0 backup tests were run. For the USB 3.0 backup tests, the DS416j underperformed both the DS418j and the TS-431P by a significant margin. Surprisingly, however, the DS416j edged out the DS418j and the TS-431P on the network backup tests.
Synology DS418j, QNAP TS-431P, and DS416j Benchmark summary comparison
Using the NAS Ranker, I filtered for RAID5 class products, test method 5 and sorted by ascending price. The chart below shows the Total NAS scores for the eight least expensive four-bay NASes. The DS418j had a very respectable rank of #2 out of 16 products tested in the chart. The QNAP TS-431P and the Synology DS416j ranked #4 and #5 respectively. None of the three least expensive NASes had Total NAS ranks that came anywhere to the three compared NASes indicating that all three fared well from a price/performance perspective.
TOTAL NAS Rank for RAID5 test method Revision 5 NASes
Looking at the subcategories, the DS418j had category wins for the Read Benchmarks, Mixed Read Write, and Video categories. It tied for #6 ranking with the DS416j for Backup and tied for #4 with the TS-431P for iSCSI performance. The only category where the DS418j fell short was its #4 ranking behind the #1 ranked TS-431-P for the Write Benchmarks category.
Ranker Performance Summary comparison of the Synology DS418j, QNAP TS-431P, and Synology DS416j
It really is unusual to see three NASes to turn in benchmark performances that are so close in so many categories. While the #2 Total NAS ranked DS418j holds a slight performance over the #4 ranked QNAP TS-431P and the #5 ranked Synology DS416j, chances are that you'd never notice the differences in real-world use.
In addition to performance, the DS418j and DS416j are very similar as neither has hot swappable drives and both require case disassembly and tools to install or replace disks. The QNAP TS-431P has hot swappable disks, three USB 3.0 ports, and two Gigabit Ethernet ports and is the least expensive of the three NASes compared.
No matter which NAS you end up choosing, aany of these three will give you good performance at an affordable price. And, if you're a bargain hunter, keep an eye on the pricing of the DS416j. Since it has been discontinued by Synology, you might find one with close out price, making it the best choice for you.